Increasingly, more people are needed with higher level skills to support the growth of our existing and future businesses.
We need to:
• Improve educational attainment and support enterprise and innovation;
• Ensure that those seeking employment are ready for work and are given high quality and impartial careers guidance; and
• Develop the skills of the current workforce by helping employers to invest more in apprenticeships and training.
The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) ambition is to transform the future of Leeds City Region, building a knowledge-rich, creative economy fired by resurgent manufacturing, technical and engineering expertise. This will demand the highest levels of education in our workforce, from the youngest apprentices through to the leaders of our big businesses. The LEP is acknowledged by government to be a national leader on the Skills agenda.
It has established an Employment and Skills Panel, led by private sector employers acting as champions for their sectors and working on very practical and beneficial actions which include: Better Informed Choices – Beverley Parrish, Waste Services Director at WSP, has led this work programme to produce fact sheets, lesson plans and videos across key City Region sectors, for use in schools and colleges and with parents in order to encourage young people to make informed choices about future career options - see www.lcrjobsintel.co.uk.
Five three one – this initiative enables businesses to invest in future skills, to offer work placements and real-world exposure to young people. To date, over 300 businesses have joined the campaign delivering significant, positive benefit for the economy. Software Engineering – Paul Gibson, Managing Director at PureNet is leading a strand of work to address skills shortages relating to skilled software engineers, programmers and coders.
Utilising his networks, Paul mobilised eleven MDs and CEOs of software related businesses to a roundtable discussion on the skills issues facing their businesses. Arising from this discussion, funding has been secured for a test-bed ’Accelerator’ programme aimed at people who wish to work in this field but lack the technical or programming skills required by employers.
Discussions are now under way with colleges and universities to design the ’Accelerator’ element. Engineering/Advanced Manufacturing - Simon Nadin (General Manager – Mechanical Drives), at Siemens, and Phil Ball (UK Managing Director) at Kodak are working with a wider group of employers under the banner of the Leeds Manufacturing Forum to develop a University Technical College for the sector.
Simon has also toured Leeds City Region universities giving talks to undergraduates to inspire and encourage them to pursue active careers in engineering. Enterprise – Amjad Pervez, Founding Partner at Seafresh/Adams Group, is leading a group of employers and educators to ensure that schools, colleges and universities are doing their best to create an ’eco-system’ of enterprise and help young people to be innovative, and entrepreneurial.
In addition, the LEP has had a major impact in reducing the number of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) and has secured over £20m of funding to help young people achieve positive results whether it be a job, an apprenticeship or a place on a training course. Our results, with the influence of the Employment and Skills Panel and its key partners, are above those being achieved elsewhere.
Stephanie Burras, Chair of the LEP’s Employment and Skills Panel is not complacent though, stating: “We need to inspire and encourage people towards developing future technologies, products and services. To achieve this, we need to couple the passion and commitment of business leaders with that of teachers and advisers so that everyone is stretching the capabilities and aspirations of their students and employees.”